Close to 100,000 UK homebuyers secured mortgages in January, highlighting the ongoing strength of the country’s coronavirus-induced home-buying frenzy.
There were 99,000 mortgages greenlit in January, according to data released Monday from the Bank of England. Though slightly below the 102,800 mortgages approved in December, the total is still far above the six-month average of 67,900 per month that was recorded in the leadup to the pandemic, the report said.
“These latest mortgage approval numbers highlight a market at its most buoyant in the month of January since before the financial crisis of 13 years ago,” Islay Robinson, CEO of Enness Global Mortgages, said in a statement responding to the data. “Activity is far higher than normal levels and this has no doubt been driven by the current stamp duty holiday.”
The temporary stamp duty holiday—which, for now, is scheduled to expire at the end of March—is a tax break that eliminates the fee on home buys up to £500,000 (US$696,000) and can save buyers a maximum of £15,000.
Further bolstering demand among homebuyers are low borrowing rates and drastically altered housing priorities. Now spending more time at home and working remotely, buyers are eager for more space, quieter surroundings and gardens.
An anticipated three-month extension to the stamp duty holiday, expected to be announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday, looks set to draw out the appetite for new homes a little longer yet.
“We may be about to take a step back from the cliff-edge should the stamp duty holiday be extended. However, this is only prolonging the inevitable and, if anything, will only steepen the gradient of any potential market decline,” Mr. Robinson said.
“We should perhaps make the best of these ‘sunny days’ whilst we can before another stamp duty deadline countdown leaves us teetering on the edge once again,” he added.